Page 183


Page 183 (1968: The Defining Year)





Department of Defense (USMC) Photo A371216

A Marine 106mm recoilless rifle team set the weapon
on its tripod in one of the Hue University classrooms, to take out an
enemy machine gun. According to one of the gunners, 'we fired it with
a lanyard where we knocked out our objective-we kind of knocked out
the building that the 106 was in too, but it didn't hurt the gun, once
we dug it out.'

According to one of the NCOs, the recoilless rifles teamed up with
both the 81mm mortar crews and the infantry. The 106s would blast 'holes
into the back of buildings so that units could get in without using
the normal exit.' Marine recoilless rifle gunners flushed out the NVA
and then forward observers for the 81s called in the mortars: 'Blowing
the buildings open so that the infantry could get through.' Sergeant
Terry Cochrane, theplatoon sergeant of the 2d Battalion's 106mm platoon,
remembered that the gunners even fired one recoilless rifle from inside
one of the University buildings. Unable to position their weapon to
knock out a machine gun that blocked the battalion's advance, Cochrane
and his gunners took their 460-pound recoilless rifle 'inside . . .
and we fired it with a lanyard where we knocked out our objective-we
kind of knocked out the building that the 106 was in too, but it didn't
hurr the gun, once we dug it out.'27

The North Vietnamese, nevertheless, were still in force inside the
treasury building. With its thick walls and large steel door, the structure
remained impervious to Company F's repeated efforts to force its way
into the building, despite the use of recoilless rifles and tanks. The
NVA covered with fire all avenues of approach. At this point, according
to one account. Major Ralph J. Salvati, the 2d Battalion's executive
officer, suggested employing CS (a variant of rear gas) against the
enemy. Salvati told Cheatham that he had seen a stack of E-8 CS launchers
in the MACV compound and proposed that he go and obtain them. Lightweight
and compact, one launcher could fire 64 CS canisters in four volleys
of 16 each. After a jeep trip in which he acquired the launchers, Salvati
joined Captain Downs in an abandoned school near the treasury.28*

Putting on their gas masks, Salvati and two enlisted Marines ran into
an adjoining courtyard and set up the launcher. After a misfire, the
Marine major hooked up a battery to the trigger mechanism. This time
the E-8 launcher hurled the gas canisters into


* According to a member of the 1st Marines staff. Colonel Hushes 'stressed
the use of the E-H CS dispenser until no more were available.' Maj Ernest
Cook, Comments on draft ms, 20Oct69, Donnelly and Shore, 'Ho Chi Minh's
Gamble' (Vietnam Comment Files).




Page 183 (1968: The Defining Year)